Many evolutionists have responded to my proposition, but their comments make me wonder. One criticized me for not offering an alternative while others blamed me for bias in my beliefs. Another said my purpose is to drive creation/ID and another said I am a Biblical fundamentalist. Yet another said that my basic complaint is that science refuses to work on the assumption that maybe things were magicked into existence. Aside from being false, the main problem with such comments is they leave me no closer to the fact of evolution.
Another evolutionist explained the intellectual necessity of Darwin’s idea:
Science stops when we use the “God made the mosquito” assumption. There’s nothing to be done and nothing more to learn about our universe or ourselves: save listening to the people who believe they have cornered the truth. This critique of evolution is not an effort to further understanding, but to halt it.
This is certainly a popular mandate for evolution, but it hardly makes it a scientific fact. Another argued for why evolution is better than creation or design:
The argument is that evolution—common descent with gradual, opportunistic modification—would produce such effects, and we have no good reason to suppose that a Designer of life—supernatural or otherwise—would choose to do so.
It is another popular argument but, again, it does little to explain why evolution is a scientific fact. Another evolutionist argued that virtually everyone educated accepted descent with modification within a decade or two of the Origin. But given Darwin’s reasoning and the limited state of nineteenth century biology, this point raises more questions than answers about the claim that evolution is a scientific fact.
He further criticized me for ignoring the overwhelming statistical confirmations of common ancestry:
The odds of e.g. morphological and molecular phylogenies agreeing as much as they do (there are sometimes disagreements, but they are statistically minor, at least if you are open-minded enough to actually learn about the relevant statistics, and not just quote mine from people who don’t) are miniscule. The fossil record shows similar statistical agreement. Etc.
But if the disagreements are not statistically significant, they certainly are biologically significant. Massive similarities and differences show up where they shouldn’t be. Perhaps evolution somehow constructed such contradictions, but from a scientific perspective they are not merely statistically insignificant. Aside from speculation, we have no good explanation for the many significant disagreements we find. The argument that they are statistically insignificant and can safely be ignored while maintaining that evolution is a fact ignores the science.
Furthermore, the idea that the aligning of various traits, of various species, makes evolution a fact is a fallacy. A repeated pattern of similarities proves, well, a repeated pattern of similarities. To conclude that evolution or common descent is a scientific fact would we not also need powerful evidence that such disparate populations could somehow follow an evolutionary path, one into the other? But this is a major problem in evolutionary theory.
Another evolutionist compared evolution to heliocentrism, and evolution denial to holocaust denial:
Surely it is in theory possible to explain the evidence in another way, with miracles that alter the relative position of earth and sun in a manner that misleadingly resembles the earth following a gravitational orbit around the sun.
Likewise, it will always be theoretically possible to deny evolution, provided one is willing to posit a misleading miracle where observable natural phenomena and forces would be perfectly adequate to account for what we see.
In the case of evolution, we had pretty reliable evidence even when we simply had the succession of fossils, the evidence of related morphology, and other such data. Now that we have DNA evidence, and can determine relatedness between all living things using genetics, the situation is summed up nicely by Francisco Ayala: "there are no more gaps."
Of course, it will always be possible to deny scientific facts, just as it is possible to deny historical facts. And so the question is whether one wants to follow the most straightforward reading of the evidence, or whether one prefers to engage in something that is to science what holocaust denial is to history.
But the evolutionary explanations are not perfectly adequate to account for what we see, that’s the point. The positing of miracles is irrelevant. Genetics, for instance, reveals substantial problems for evolution. We know there is a genetic resistance to change and we would have to believe that evolution somehow serendipitously created the very mechanisms crucial for evolution itself.
Another evolutionist argued that mutations, recombination and selection create novel traits and speciation, as has been observed in the lab and in nature. But this doesn’t make all of evolution a fact. Even evolutionists agree that the large scale changes required by the theory are not well explained by known mechanisms. And in any case we would have to believe that evolution somehow created recombination itself, so that such evolution could occur. Perhaps so, but such a story is hardly a fact.
Novel traits have been observed to emerge rapidly and via complex mechanisms that respond to the environmental need. Yes, adaptation is observed, but it makes little sense under evolution. How did evolution create adaptation mechanisms that respond to environmental challenges with rapid design changes? The explanation that “such mechanisms increase fitness, so it is no surprise they evolved” is more dogma than science.
I would gladly accept and promote evolution, but it has substantial scientific problems papered over with strident claims of being a fact. Is there evidence for evolution? Certainly. But in each case there are profound subtleties and problems. Whether or not evolution, in one form or another, actually occurred is difficult to say. But what is clear is the state of the evidence. Evolutionists dogmatically claim the idea is a scientific fact, but they don’t show why.